The Chamber’s Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team (GPEAT) has partnered with Ramboll for their 2019 SPARK Innovation Competition, a 24-hour, think-tank style competition created to solve real-world challenges in the areas of advanced manufacturing, energy, environment, and water.

Established in 2013, SPARK has since been scaled to competitions held across the United States, bringing together young talent in neighboring universities along with industry experts. As part of each competition, diverse, cross-discipline student teams are provided problem statements from multiple industries and given just under 24 hours to come up with a solution. Guided by subject matter experts from Ramboll and industry partners, the teams brainstorm, develop concepts, and pitch their solutions to a panel of academic and private sector judges to win a cash prize.

This year, leaders from GPEAT member companies UGI, Philadelphia Gas Works, Exelon, PECO, PJM Interconnection, Veolia North America, NRG Energy, and Stradley Ronon convened to develop a regional energy-focused problem statement. Undergraduate students from Drexel University, Haverford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Villanova University will work to solve the problem statement during the two-day competition.

GPEAT members developed a problem statement in response to new city and state-level goals focused on influencing climate change across the nation. Pennsylvania is no different and currently has established a state-level goal of 26% reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 2025 from 2005 levels, and an 80% reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels.

As part of the challenge, GPEAT members asked students to assume they are a state policy team tasked with developing a vision and pathway towards the new goals. The problem statement asks the students to describe a path forward to satisfy both a short-term (2025) and long-term (2050) vision for energy policy to a panel of utility executives. The solution must consider the following criteria:

  • Safety. The solution must maintain current high standards for safe operation.
  • Reliability. Proven technologies that could be broadly adopted, guaranteeing availability at or near 100% should be considered.
  • Affordability. The solution should demonstrate an understanding of the impacts to all customer classes and income demographics, including:
    • Cost Effectiveness (return on investment and time horizon, from the investor’s prospective)
    • Economic Impact (job creation and industry expansion versus job elimination)
  • Sustainability. Plans should take into consideration environmental impact and life-cycle consequences.

Read GPEAT’s full problem statement.

GPEAT members will join Ramboll and other industry partners from Merck, Honeywell, Comcast, and the University of Pennsylvania, November 14 – 15, 2019 to coach student teams.